Padmavati Row : Myth of Benevolent Alauddin Khalji

The film Padmavati is embroiled in great nation wide debate. Right wing groups are demanding film should not be allowed to release. According to them, film has shown Rajput queen Rani Padmavati in a poor light and glorified the role of invader Alauddin Khalji. At the same time, those who want the film should be seen, are not only questioning the very historical existence of Rani Padmavati, but they are also claiming Sultan Alauddin Khali to be a benevolent ruler, who was a great general and an able administrator.

In an earlier article, I had tried to bring forward evidence and arguments in support of Rani Padmavati. In this article, I shall try to put forward my thoughts on the myth of Alauddin Khalji being a benevolent ruler.

Articles have emerged that claim Alauddin Khalji to be a brilliant general who had brought about reforms and no way he could have been involved in lustful pursuit of women :

In another article published in Siasat Times, it is claimed that India should be grateful to Alauddin Khalji for stopping Mongol invaders from pillaging and plundering India:

A third article highlighted administrative and agrarian reforms brought about by Alauddin Khalji :

A glance at wikipedia entries against Khalji Dynasty and Alauddin Khalji reveal the following traits that go against the image makeover of Alauddin Khalji that is being published.  Let us consider the following :

Ferocious and faithless: Historians note Alauddin Khalji was a tyrant. Alauddin Khalji had killed his uncle, who was also his father in law, by treachery to ascend the throne of Delhi. Alauddin also killed his own family members, and nephews,  after he suspected them of rebellion, by first gouging out their eyes and then beheading them.

Tyrant : Alauddin Khalji was known for his cruelty against attacked kingdoms after wars.   After capturing Chittor, Alauddin Khalji had ordered slaughter of 30000 citizens. In Delhi, Alauddin Khalji had executed between 15000 to 30000 newly converted muslims for suspicion of treason. Killing so many people, including his own family members, may not get him the tag of a benevolent king. Infact by todays standard, killing of so many human beings will be called genocide.

Plundered and pillaged neigbhors: Alauddin Khalji had invaded many neighbouring kingdoms in an attempt to expand his empire. His army invaded Ranthambhor, Chittor, Gujarat, Devagiri and further down all the way to Madurai. At all places, invaders had looted treasury, looted temple treasure, destroyed temples and brought the loot back to Delhi. Thus Alauddin’s men were not really very different from the Mongol armies that were trying to invade India.

Capturing Women of Captured Kingdom : Generals of Alauddin had captured wife Kamala Devi of King Karna after capturing Patan in Gujarat. Kamala Devi was presented to Alauddin Khalji as a booty of war. Sultan had married Kamala Devi. This gives enough ammunition to argument that one of the objective of Alauddin to attack Chittor was to attain Rani Pamini.

Agrarian Reform : As described in Khalji Dynasty, Alauddin Khalji enforced four taxes on non-Muslims which included  – jizya (poll tax), kharaj (land tax), kari (house tax) and chari (pasture tax). He had created laws that would allow officers to seize by force half of all produce any farmer generates to fill sultanate granaries.

Anti Hindu Bias : Alauddin Khalji created “rules and regulations in order to grind down the Hindus, so as to reduce them to abject poverty and deprive them of wealth and any form of surplus property that could foster a rebellion the;

This article is not an attempt to demonise Alauddin Khalji. It is understood that Alauddin Khalji was an individual of his time, that is 14th century. He had his religious inclinations, his own beliefs, own ambition and prejudices. Judging by standards of 21st century he may be potrayed as a monster. In his own time and own world he was probably trying to remain true to his own self. We may champion his bravery in battlefield and praise his mastery in marshalling his forces, we should not try to paint him as a man washed in milk and honey.

References :

Stories of a Rajput queen | The Indian Express

Why India Should Be Grateful to Alauddin Khilji | The Siasat Daily

Beyond Padmavati row: 5 things Alauddin Khilji … – Business Standard

Khalji dynasty – Wikipedia

Ratnasimha – Wikipedia

Alauddin Khalji’s conquest of Gujarat – Wikipedia

Alauddin Khalji’s conquest of Devagiri – Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

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Padmavati, Existential Debate Continues

The film Padmavati is facing a lot of resistance. First, Rajput Karni sena had vandalised the set of Padmavati in early part of 2017. Now at the time of release of the film, different Rajput groups have vowed to oppose release and if necessary vandalise movie theatres that screen the movie. As debate around release of the film Padmavati becomes more and more intense, threats are being issued to actor and director of the film. One of the most versatile actress and a prolific director are being called names. All the time law and order machinery is staying unusually quiet. In this scenario, three issues coming out in forefront:

  1. Did Padmavati actually exist;
  2. Was Alauddin Khilji a benevolent administrator; and
  3. Is protest around screening the film correct;

A concerted effort is being made to establish Rani Padmini to be a fictitious character. According to historians, there is no evidence that Padmavati ever existed. The character Padmavati was created by Malek Jayashi, a sufi poet in 1540:

Khalji defeated the Rana of Chittor in 1303 and died in 1316. No one by the name of Padmini or Padmavati existed then — or at any time — in flesh and blood resembling the story. She was born in 1540, 224 years after Khalji’s death, in the pages of a book of poetry by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, resident of Jayas in Awadh, a very long way from Chittor.”

The author goes on to argue that image of Padmini was further polished in Bengal in 19th century to boost resistance movement against colonial power

” It was in Bengal in the 19th century that Padmini acquired the persona of a heroic queen committing jauhar in order to save her honour against a lusty Muslim invader. Concealed in it was a vicarious patriotic resistance to colonial dominance which also characterised other literary productions in the region such as Bankim Chandra’s celebrated Anand Math.

It is this memory in Rajasthan that has been turned into a hard, unambiguous historical fact which brooks no disputation. The inversion of a character imagined by a Muslim poet into the defender of Hindu honour can pass quietly unnoticed.”

The story of Padmavati has survived for more than 700 years. At a time when there was hardly much communication. May be it had spread by word of mouth by bards and became a part of folklore.

Even if we accept that Malek Jayashi created Padmavati, could it not be possible poet Jayashi got his idea from folk history? Padmavati is etched in peoples memory, how many have even heard of Jayashi beyond exalted academic circles?

Even it is accepted that in 19th century Bengal, Padmavati was used a symbol of resistance against colonial powers, how did the message spread? Communication had hardly improved from days of Padmavati in 14th century. There was no internet, no e-mail, hardly any postal service, limited train service?

According to historians, three Jauhars had taken place in Chittorgarh. One in 1303, and two in 16th century. Tale of Rani Padmini has remained etched in the mind of people. Many of us have heard the story in our childhood, may be in history books, in India of sixties and seventies, when India was ruled by centrist congress and not right wing BJP. Yet the story survived..

As part of physical evidence, there exist a Padmini palace, a jauhar kind in Chittorgarh. These sites are authenticated by Archaeological Survey of India as national monuments. Were these structures built after Padmini? Is there any evidence to this effect?

No one disputes existence of Rawal Rattan Singh. Rattan Singh had fought battle with Alauddin Khilji and lost. Amir Khusroo, who happened to accompany Alauddin Khilji to Chittor, claimed, Rana Rattan Singh had surrendered and his life was spared. Other historians disagree with this point of view. Because on that fateful day, Alauddin Khilji had slaughtered 30000 people of Chittor. There is no reason for victorious sultan to spared the life of vanquished rana. Amir Khusroo never talked about Rani Padmavati. Would a court historian document failure of his master to attain his objective? That too a person who never cared sparing lives of Hindus and Muslims alike?

There is break in Sisodiya lineage that was started by Bappa Rawal after Rawal Rattan Singh. Historians account for Mewar dynasty from 1326 onwards. What happened in 1303 and beyond can be authenticated by family members of Mewar royal family. One can find Sisodia family lineage on the net under Rajasthan Royalty. Kunwar Vishvapratap Singh, a member of royal family, has said on TV that Rani Padmini was his ancestor. He has also written a letter to I&B minister and Prime Minister on the matter.  Oher kings of Bappa Rawal family existed, but historical records are scant.

In the event of doubt, who should we trust more? Historians or family member who claims Rani Padmavati was his ancestor?

Udaipur (Princely State) Homepage with Pictures and Map : Rajput …

Padmavati Controversy: Rajasthan Royal Writes To PM Modi

Violent People and Turbulent Sky

It is generally accepted that air space around India’s crowded airports is not ideal. We have heard horror stories of aircrafts coming dangerously close. We have heard incidence of computer in air traffic control failing and manual management of busy airports often become difficult. All said and done, by gods grace, we have not seen many or any major accident.

On the other hand, space within aircraft is also becoming very dangerous. We have heard of a privileged and entitlement conscious passenger beating an airline employee for being slighted. The incident forced government to bring law that would empower airline employees to handle unruly passengers. A side effect of such a law has manifested itself, when a middle aged passenger was body slammed in the tarmac after an alteraction in New Delhi.

A video of the event has emerged in public domain. In the video, the following can be seen and/or heard:

  • one can hear Mr. Katiyal using abusive language, “F-word”;
  • employees, it can be heard, objected to use of such a language;
  • an employee was shouting stop him from boarding the bus.
  • It can be seen that Mr. Ravindr Katiyal was prevented from boarding a bus that would take him from tarmac to terminal.
  • It can be seen that an employee was physcially restraining Mr. Katiyal.
  • When released of the vice grip, Mr. Katiyal was seen attacking another employee on charge of pushing him.
  • In turn, the employee tackles and throws him on the ground. We can see employee was restraining Mr. Katiyal by holding him by his throat.
  • Mr. Katiyal, lying on the ground, can be seen hitting the employee.

As the video went viral and picked up by TV channels additional information emerged.

  • Mr. Katiyal was travelling from Chennai to Delhi by Indigo airline. His plane landed in Delhi at noon when temperature in the tarmac was close to 37 degree celcius.
  • Mr. Katiyal allowed elderly, ladies and children to board the shuttle bus.
  • Mr. Katiyal was waiting for the bus, under shade of the plane. His conflict started when an employee asked him to come out of the shade. According to Mr. Katiyal employee spoke to him rudely.
  • The person with whom Mr. Katiyal had physical conflict was not even the person who instigated the initial fight.
  • To add insult to injury, in police station Mr. Katiyal was told whole incidence was his fault. Katiyal’s wife was told her husband was psychotic. They were threatened with a counter law suit by Indigo.
  • To be fair, keeping in mind passenger safety, no one is allowed to come close to the aircraft. A member of ground staff, of an airline was sucked in by engine of a jet liner in an Indian airport.

Even if we agree that Indio ground staff did not hit Mr. Katiyal, despite being attacked and abused, and Indigo staff were going by the rule book that a passenger is not allowed to go near the aircraft for his own safety,  a few points must be considered:

  •  Mr. Katiyal was not allowed to board shuttle and physically prevented him. This cannot be permitted. Does Indigo has any right not to let a customer board shuttle bus to settle score?
  • Even if Mr. Katiyal, a 50 plus year old passenger, had thrown the first punch, Mr. Katiyal was no match to airline staff. Could trained staff of airline have not handle him better? One can see a tall guy holding and restraining Katiyal. They could have simply resorted to such a tactic.
  • Airline staff should be trained to deal with all kind of passengers. One thing is a rowdy client on board a flight and another is dealing with a passenger on tarmac. More so under peak mid day sun. Indigo staff should have controlled themselves, let the passenger move to cooler climes of bus and terminal. That is how a mature and trained staff behave.
  • Mr. Katiyal was thrown on the ground. He could have been seriously injured in the process. Mr. Katiyal was a paying customer. He certainly did not bargain for sucha treatment when he boarded the flight. Indigo could have handed him over to CISF. The person who instigated had left. In 40 degree heat if a passenger was waiting for bus, he could have treated much more professionally.
  • If Indigo was on the right side of legal and moral divide, why did they sit on the video for so long?

Overall, the airline came out in very bad light. In the US, a passenger was injured when security personnel tried to deboard him forcefully. United Airlines had pay a hefty compensation to the passenger. I think the Incidence merits serious compensation and criminal investigation.

References

1.IndiGo incident video: What led to passenger, ground staff fight; who …

2. My Colleagues Were Trying to Prevent a Serious Mishap: IndiGo Prez …

Demonetisation, One Year Later

One year has passed since the decision to demonetise high value currencies was announced by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Nov, 2016. A lot has been said both for and against demagnetisation. Nobel laureates Prof. Amartya Sen and Prof. Paul Krugman have denounced efficacy of the mechanism. On the other hand, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati had praised demonetisation as a bold move, and S. Gurumurthy, an idealogogue of RSS, has claimed demonetisation to be a paradigm shift. In the political front, former finance minister Mr. P Chidambaram has called demonitisation the biggest scam, while the current finance minister Mr. Arun Jaitley has enumerated numerous benefits of demonetization on the posterity.

As the GDP figures on second quarter of financial year 2017 -18 came out, opposition and media had attributed low GDP numbers as an adverse effect of  demonetisation. Though economists have advised not to link demonetisation to low GDP growth, critics were relentless. Many of the expected deliverables of demonetisation were not achieved, for example:

  • Terror funding was not affected as incidence of stone pelting in Kashmir did not come down.  We know, however, that post demonetisation there had been several bank robberies in Kashmir valley. Could this not indicate there was cash crunch and terrorists ran away with cash?
  • Black money was not affected by demonetisation. Not only almost all money had come back to bank, no one has been arrested and or prosecuted for holding black money. There is no doubt that people that had black money, had peddled it ingenuously. But consider this fact that 30 thousand crore has  emerged as black money and 290 thousand crore of unusual transactions are under scanner. This may suggest around 320 thousand crore unaccounted money under scanner. Is that not nearly one fifth of Indian currency in circulation?
  • Economy has crawled back from cashless to cash driven. Prior to demonetisation, cash to GDP ratio was more than 12. This ratio has come down to 9 one year after demonetisation. Some data suggest, there is definite increase in cashless transaction. All said and done, bringing behavioural change takes time. Government has made an effort. It must persist by giving incentive to using cashless transactions.
  • Many people had to endure a lot of hardship. As many as 120 people lost their lives directly or indirectly due to demonetisation. Post demonetisation, I had visited Haryana and Assam on my personal capacity. I did not see the type of misery, and devastation being propagated by TV channels and news papers. In addition, ruling party had scored significant victory in many village panchayat, municipality and state assembly elections, most notable being landslide in Uttar Pradesh.

As I hear debates for and against demonitisation, it appears that both sides are speaking the same thing. While pro demonitisation group is putting emphasis on long term benefits, opposition is not denying exactly long term benefits, but they are focusing on short term inconveniences. Pro demonitisation groups claim hardship came with the package, and people were warned. Nature of the move did not allow great preparation. Anti demo group claim perceived benefits could have achieved by different means without causing less discomfort. Who is right? Indian people will decide, may be in 2019.

References:

 

  1. The-poor-have-embraced-modi-and-the-vote-merchants-still-dont-get-it

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/all-that-matters/the-poor-have-embraced-modi-and-the-vote-merchants-still-dont-get-it/articleshow/57597948.cms

2. From-harvard-to-house-how-notebandi-naysayers-got-it-so-wrong

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/right-and-wrong/from-harvard-to-house-how-notebandi-naysayers-got-it-so-wrong/ http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/right-and-wrong/from-harvard-to-house-how-notebandi-naysayers-got-it-so-wrong/

3. Demonetisation was a fundamental corrective to the economy much like liberalisation of the 1990s : https://t.co/FM77jLjX8p

4. Why DeMo, GST are not to blame for slowdown – Times of India Blogs

5. Modi’s Mission 2022: Government is methodically shattering the glass ceilings that trap Indians in poverty

 

 

 

 

Padmavati, Controversy’s Child

The movie Padmavati seems to be getting entangled in protests and controversies. In the earlier part of the year, set of the movie was destroyed by angry Rajput Karni Sena. Now that the movie is about to be released, Rajput groups want the movie be shown to them before it is released to general public. The bone of contention being a dream sequence where Alauddin Khilji is believed to fall in love with Padmavati. Director of Padmavati has denied such a scene exists. Protestors, however, are not ready to buy any assurance.

There is a strong undercurrent against Alauddin Khilji and several other muslim kings who had invaded Rajputana and India. Stories of Rajput women sacrificing their lives by jumping into fire, rather than submitting to victorious muslim army, is a matter of great pride and part of folk tales, It is, thus, very difficult to reason with protestors that even if a dream sequence exists in the movie, it is the dream of Alauddin Khilji and not of Rani Padmavati. One cannot control what Alauddin Khilji is thinking. A man who can march an army to conquer wife of a neighbouring king, can he not have a lurid fantacy? But this cannot be held again Rani Padmavati. Because she had no soft corner for the Khilji king.

As the debate around Padmavati intensified, some scholars claimed that Padmavati never existed.  How could a princess from Ceylon become queen of Chittor in Rajputana? Some doubted occurrence of Jauhar. Some even suggested Padmavati was a loser, who chose death over life? According to scholars, historians who accompanied Alauddin Khilji in his conquest, never talked of Padmavati. It can be argued that, history is written by victors and not by the vanquished. Indian history has traditionally been spread word of mouth by bards. Over a period of time and loves spread by word of mouth, exaggeration might have crept in, but actual occurrences probably remained undisputed. Thus story of Rani Padmavati is part of hindu folklore.  Jauhar kund exists in Chittorgarh fort. Historians report of three jauhars that happened in Chittorgarh, after Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi, Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and Emperor Akbar of Delhi. In the middle of all this, I want to see Ranveer Singh as Allauddin Khilji.

People have tried to potray Alauddin Khilji as a benevolent general, who  administered his kingdom well, expanded  it, and protected it by keeping invading mughals at bay. Others think of Alauddin Khilji as a ruthless person who killed his own father in law, coveted a neighbouring king’s wife and generally cruel against vast population of hindu subjects.  By the way, Alauddin Khilji was not a devout muslim by his own standard. He had a lover in Malik Kafur, his trusted general. Practice of homo-sexuality is a heresy for devout muslims even today.

Without condoning Alauddin Khilji and muslim invaders after him for their cruelty against majority hindu natives, is it fair to judge the man of 1306  by todays standard of 2017? Both Alauddin and Rani Padmavati were products of their time. Their morality, their value system, their concept of honour, and their outlook to life were totally different. We may not like them, but we cannot change them. That is history. We can make better history by letting others watch Padmvati. I am dieing to watch Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji. I loved the way he portrayed Peshwa Bajirao. Let us hope good sense prevails.

 

Should Society Dictate Personal Choice

Akhila was a hindu girl in Kerala. She converted to Islam while staying away from her family during her college studies. Her name post her conversion was Hadiya. Hadiya fell in love with a muslim boy and married him. Hadiya’s (Akhila’s) parents lodged a police complaint and moved Keral High Court. Court had no problem with Akhila’s conversion, but court annulled the marriage. Hadiya moved supreme court claiming she was made to stay at her parents place against her will.

Amid protests and petitions by right wing groups, Supreme Court of India had asked NIA, (National Investigating Agency), to investigate terror angle to Hadiya’s love story. NIA had suggested that there is a pattern to convesions. Meanwhile, Court has commented that one can marry a criminal, if he /she does it as an adult. Court has also asked Hadiya to present herself and narrate her side of the story.

Right wing hindu groups had claimed that Akhila was converted as per design called Love Jihad. According to Love Jihad theory, non muslim women are persuaded to convert to islam and marry muslim men. All this towards creation of a global islamic state. On a recent debate on NDTV, the concept of love jihad was ridiculed and trashed as offensive by anchor, Nidhi Razdan, and activists like Farah Naqvi and Sadia Dehlavi. Indeed, argument put forward by Farah Naqvi was much more rational and cogent, where she argued case of Hadiya was that of choice made by an adult woman, and her parents and courts have no business interfering in the matter.

Later, I came across another TV program on India Today TV channel hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai. I would tend to believe what was shown, because Rajdeep Sardesai is generally not a supporter of the Hindu right. Sting operation carried out by journalists of India Today group, confirmed assertion of Hindu right that a design exists to convert non muslims into islamic faith. An organisation called PFI (Peoples Front of India), aided by petro dollar, was engaged in such an activity. On India Today sting, it was shown that operatives were openly claiming conversion is one of their agenda. The activists claimed that their intention is to set up a global islamic state. It is also alleged that women are converted and taken to war zones of middle east to serve ISIS fighters. In this context, can we connect the dots between Hadiya’s conversion and her marriage to a muslim man? The man had expressed his intention to take Hadiya to middle east. Kerala High Court was not amused upon hearing the news of marriage. Many believe Hadiya case is one such case. NIA believes there is a distinct pattern in such conversions.

This brings to bigger question. Can society, and state decide whom an individual chooses as life partner? I think it is obnoxious and intrusive for anyone to interfere in another persons private life. If state has solid proof of criminality, they must do everything to stop the same. But state cannot decide who should marry whom. At the same time, one must consider if a person is marrying for love, why should one partner has to abandon his / her faith and convert? I think, both marriage and religious belief should be held private and sacrosanct as an individual’s personal choice. It seems there may be some truth to the assertions of Hindu right about designs of islamists.

References

1. From Akhila to Hadiya: What exactly is the Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ case all …

2. Is ‘Love Jihad’ just a political campaign

3. Operation Jihad Mafia: Kerala’s conversion factories unmasked : India …

4. Kerala Love Jihad: India Today Exposes Zainaba And Popular Front …

Fun has gone out of Train Journey

In my childhood day,  I used to like train journies. I was fascinated by engines. Earlier there used to be steam locomotives of two different models. One with tapering front end with headlight at the centre. My aunt told me once, this engine was called Canadian engine. I never asked why, but I was attached to this model. With a deep booming whistle, I felt, the engine had a personality of its own. Second engine was called Chittaranjan engine. This engine was manufactured in Chittaranjan locomotive factory in West Bengal. I did not like this model with headlight on top of the body of engine, like hood of a snake. Then came a third kind. The diesel locomotive. Madras mail, travelling from Howrah to Madras and back, was pulled by this engine. I saw one in Balasore. Though sleek compared to a steam engine, I never did like diesel engine. I felt it was too impersonal and lacked character.

I would travel at least three times a year from Kanpur to Howrah and back. Those days our favourite train was Toofan express. It was not the best train or the fastest train. Those in a rush could avail  Howrah – Delhi – Kalka mail or Deluxe express, nowadays called Poorva express. Rajdhani express had just been introduced into service. But most people from our social strata felt Rajdhani express was for the rich and powerful and was beyond our reach. A bogey would be attached to Toofan express, as it came from Delhi, at the Kanpur station.  Most people like me who were travelling from Kanpur would avail a booking in this bogey.

Unlike the name suggested, Toofan express hardly moved like Toofan. It would take close to twenty four hours to travel from Kanpur to Howrah. Most often it used to be late, much to the annoyance of people that would come to pick me up at the Howrah station. Those days there was no internet, no SMS, basically no way to tell if train is coming on time or not. There was rudimentary landline phone service, which no one bothered to pick up at any government office, including railway stations. Families, of our socio-economic strata, usually did not own a telephone set at home. One had to be physically present at the station to know the status. Except when there was an accident, people would hear it on radio and much later see it on TV, those who had access to a set. For me, I did not care if train ran late. From my perspective if the train ran late, my vacation would be extended that bit longer. 

Most of us used to travel in a three tier compartment. These compartments were not air-conditioned. Not that I ever felt the need. All I cared was to have a window seat. So that I could see the engine chugging along at bends from my compartment window. I would crane my neck and strain my eyes to watch the engine whistling all the way. Engine smoke would carry coal dust. By the time I reached Howrah station my face would turn blackish. 

Engine would be changed at Mughalserai and at Asansol. I also remember between Jhajha and Shimultala, in present day Jharkhand, Toofan expressed would be pushed by a second engine from behind. I would pray to god please let our engine/s be a Canadian engine. I would make it a point, as I got out of the train and moved towards the exit at Howrah station, to see which engine was pulling us.  If I saw a Chittaranjan loco was pulling our train, I would feel really sad and humiliated. How is Toofan express different from an ordinary passenger train, if it is being pulled by a Chittaranjan engine?

These days life has changed. I do not travel by train as much. Whenever I do, I travel by A/C two tier or three tier. Toofan express still runs and runs late often. Not many people I know travel by Toofan express. Most people do not even consider travelling by  Delhi Kalka mail and Poorva express.   Most of us prefer Rajdhani and Duronto express. Reduced travel time and improved convenience have become major determining factors.   Steam engines have been replaced by  diesel and electric locos. There is no way of watching the engine from compartment because windows are sealed. There is hardly any scope for face getting blackened by coal soot. Tea vendor or snack  vendor cannot be accessed sitting inside compartment.   Trains do get late even today. But that is more of inconvenience and less a matter of fun. Fun actually has gone out of train travel. 

Animal Rights and Wrong : There are Two Sides to a Story

India is caught in the vortex of cow politics. It started with terrible lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in his home, which was followed later by mob lynching of Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer. In between and beyond, there had been several instances of mob lynching and violence against cattle traders, transporters and beef / meat sellers. A state governments have closed down illegal slaughter houses. Many citizens have protested acts of vigilantism, slack and biased law enforcement, high handed behaviour of government/s and administration. Protests erupted against perceived intolerance and high handed behavour of state supported vigilante groups against citizens belonging to minority community.  Media attention drawn by such actions has brought embarassment to administrators.

In the middle of all these brouhaha, people trying to prevent cows from being slaughtered have tried to point out that cattle traders are not as innocent as being projected. They also resort to violence. It is claimed such a violence is never highlighted by media. Recently at least three such incidents came into light. One BSF officer when confronted cattle smugglers in India Bangladesh border in Tripura, was attacked. Injured officer lost his life a few days later. In another instance, an animal rights activist was attacked in Bangalore when she reported illegal cow slaughter in the city. In the same city,  a team of court commissioners, lawyers, police and members of cow protection NGO was heckled, chased and attacked when they went to investigate an illegal slaughterhouse.

As an average law abiding ordinary citizen, I strongly disagree with anyone trying to unilaterally enforce their point of view on my lifestyle. Let us talk about cow vigilante groups and animal welfare groups and their impact on our lives:

  • Members of cow vigilante groups hold cow in high esteem because of their religious belief. As a result, these people discourage, often violently, slaughter of cows. It is believed that action of cow vigilante groups have not only interfered with food habits of people, many people associated with leather and meat export industries have lost their livelihood. Loss to economy has been considerable.
  • Animal welfare groups look after interest of all animals. Members of these groups had made biology research very difficult. Functioning of organisations undertaking drug discovery research and contract biology research were severely affected due to interference by animal rights group. Even today, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a permission to use dogs and monkey for pharmaceutical research. In an industry where time and cost plays a very important role, animal rights groups have made processes very unattractive.
  • It appears that animal rights organisations are very vocal against targets that are concerned about their public image, organisations that play by the rule, and groups that do not resort to violence. Apart from pharmaceutical companies, government agencies that have tried to control population of nilgai, wild boar and wild monkey. Jalikattu, an annual bull taming sport in rural Tamil Nadu has come under  protective gaze of animal rights group. PETA has approached supreme court of India to stop Jalikattu.
  • Yet, the same animal rights groups like PETA look otherway when it comes to animal slaughter for food or during religious festivals like Idul Fitar. Anyone who has seen how chickens are coupled up in a small cage, may understand what I am saying. I have never been to an abbatoir, but I have heard horror stories about them. Yet thee groups were silent about mass sacrifice of animals during religious festivals like idul fitar.

It is not difficult to understand the importance of high quality animals for food as well as for experimental work. A diseased animal may be harmful as a food as well as may give erroneous result if used in experiment. From this angle. there is no dispute that interference of animal rights group has streamlined process of breeding, selling. procurement and use of experimental animals. These groups have force laboratories interested to do animal research, to create good quality experimental animal facility. Cost of research has gone up, but quality of research data has probably improved. But permission ot undertake studies on dogs and monkeys remain very difficult.

There was criticism when similar principles as pharmaceutical research towards breeding and procurement of animals were applied towards streamlining slaughter of animals for food. Like in pharmaceutical research, cost of doing business of animal slaughter went up. Many people went out of business. Chief minister of UP faced flak for being anti-minority.  While animal rights group remained quiet on the issue.  Now that an animal right activist has faced ire of people who make a living slaughtering animals, may be things will be different.

We cannot but not miss the inherent contradictions. Those who support Jalikattu, oppose cattle sacrifice. On the other hand, those who oppose cruelty to animals, keep quiet when animals are slaughtered en masse during religious festivities. If legalisation of illegal abattoirs lead to job loss, so does streamlining animal use in pharmaceutical research. Lynching of a cattle farmer is abhorrent, so is attack on animal activists and law enforcement agencies who inspect illegal slaughterhouses.

We all need clear transparent enforceable rule of law not vigilante groups enforcing their own ideas of right and wrong. Please outrage against loss of life and liberty on both sides of the divide. Then and then alone we shall look at issues in a dispassionate manner.

References :

What is ‘Not in My Name’ all about? – The Hindu

BSF officer attacked by cattle smugglers dies | Business Standard News

Mob attacks animal rights activists, two constables trying to rescue …

200 Nilgai Shot. Required, Says One Minister. Unacceptable, Says …

 

Aarushi Talwar Murder Case , Many Questions Remain Unanswered

 

 Aarushi Talwar, a fourteen year old girl, was found murdered in her bedroom in NOIDA, a suburb of Delhi. Hemraj, the family helping hand, was also found murdered and his body concealed on terrace. The apartment where Aarushi lived with her parents had three rooms. Aarushi had one room to herself. Parents of Arushi occupied the room adjacent to Arushi’s. There was a servants quarter in the apartment where Hemraj lived.

 

The case was difficult because first it is believed that during initial investigation, crime scene was not secured. As a result a lot of evidence was destroyed. DIG of NOIDA police, further complicated the matter by making public pronunciation about character of Arushi and her parents. Aarushi’s  father was arrested, however, he was released. The case was handed over to CBI. First team of CBI had one line of thinking. However, they did not make much headway.

The second team of CBI was constituted and they pursued a different line of investigation. Finally, CBI submitted to court that they cannot solve the case because they do not have enough evidence. CBI wanted to close the case. However, Talwar family wanted CBI to continue investigation and find the killers. Talwar’s all along believed someone from outside the house had killed Aarushi and Hemraj.  Judge also did not accept CBI’s closure report and wanted CBI to continue. So CBI filed a report where they implicated Aarushi’s parents as the potential killer.

The verdict of the case came out in the week of 25th Nov, 2013. The CBI court pronounced Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Nupur Talwar guilty of murdering their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj. There were a lot of criticism of the judgement. Many thought it was a travesty of justice. Higher courts, many experts proclaimed, will tear the judgement apart and acquit Talwars. Talwar family vowed to appeal to higher court. On 12th Oct, 2017, Allahabad High Court, gave Dr. Rajesh and Nupur Talwar benefit of doubt in the case and ordered their release.

It is good for Dr. Rajesh and Dr. Nupur Talwar that the judge in high court saw their point of view. There are still many questions that remain unanswered:

1.If there were four people in the apartment, why only two people were killed.

2. Dr. Talwar had claimed he had scolded one of the house helps a few days before the incident. This person may have had motive to commit the crime. Even if we accept this theory, why would this person kill Aarushi and spare Dr. Talwar? His enmity was with Dr. Talwar and not his daughter!

3. Two people got brutally killed, yet two others not only stayed unharmed but they slept blissfully! This is either plain concoction or there was no motherly instinct. Any normal person wakes up, if they subconsciously suspect someone entered their property or something wrong with his / her children.

4. If an outsider actually killed Aarushi and Hemraj, why would they drag Hemraj’s body to terrace? If we accept Hemraj was killed on the terrace, why would the killers care to lock the door?

5. One fully grown adult was killed, there was no noise and no one knew in a 3 bedroom apartment!

6. Dr Talwar repeatedly mentioned about a glass where there may be finger prints of killers. This glass, according to Dr. Talwar, was used by killers to drink whisky in Talwar’s dining room. Why would a killer/s first kill two people, then decide to drink in the place where they have a high possibility of getting caught? All the while the alleged killers enjoyed their drink, Talwars happily slept through! Is this possible?

7. There was no evidence of forced entry. Even it was, Talwar’s never knew as discussed above. In the morning after, when the maid came in the door outside was locked from inside.

The above are some of the mysteries that I could not understand. I do not think any one else other than Talwar’s could have killed the girl and servant, evidence for which investigating agencies could not furnish. If parents did not do it, and if point number 6 we accept, then someone known to Talwar’s had done it. That is why Talwar’s kept repeating killer was out there somewhere. Could it be then paid assassin/s? No one knows. May be Talwars have trained their mind to forget the incidence and they continue to believe that someone else other than them had killer their daughter. Judge saw through the charade, applied his mind and gave a verdict. We must respect it now.

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Circumstances-that-point-toguilt/articleshow/26453542.cmshttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Circumstances-that-point-to-guilt/articleshow/26453542.cms

Aarushi murder case verdict leaves many questions unanswered, say legal eagles toi.in/Pd1mUZ/a24gk via @TOIDelhi #AarushiVerdict

 

Tale of Corruption: Fact or Fiction

The present government at the centre came to power with a promise that there will be no compromise against corruption. As a result, it became a matter of great discomfort when an article appeared in a web portal, The Wire.in, suggesting son of party president had benefitted after BJP government came to power at the centre in 2014.

Among several points raised by the article, the following are the key :

  • In 2013 , the company Temple Enterprise, recorded a loss of Rs 6,230;
  • In 2014, the company reported a loss of  Rs 1,724;
  • In 2015, company showed a profit of Rs 18,728 on revenues of Rs 50,000;
  • In 2016, the firm’s revenues jumped to over Rs 80.5 crore, a growth of 16 lakh percent;
  • Reserves and surplus turned negative to Rs 80.2 lakh from Rs 19 lakh the previous year;
  • Trade payables were Rs 2.65 crore, up from Rs 5,618 the previous year;
  • Short-term loans and advances were Rs 4.14 crore, up from Rs 10,000 the year before;
  • Similarities were drawn between the present case and another case involving son in law, Mr. Robert Vadra, of president of congress party;

As expected, opposition parties smelled blood. More so, keeping in mind upcoming Gujarat state assembly election. It was demanded that BJP president step down from his position. Prime Minister must explain and initiate an enquiry. It is expected that upcoming winter session of parliament will very likely be occupied with this issue.

Whether government will initiate an enquiry or not, it is for government to decide. The article appears to be erroneous and/or deliberately misleading on many facts related to financial health of the company in 2015 -16. A closer reading of the article indicates that while

  • revenue (total sale) of the company increased significantly in 2015 – 16;
  • profit (sale – expenses incurred) did not increase. In fact;
  • company reported a loss of 1.7 crore in the financial year 2015 – 16;
  • company owed money to its creditors;
  • company was closed an down.

The author had also tried to draw a parallel between the present case with that of land acquisition case of Mr. Robert Vadra. Alleged, key highlights of the case included the following:

  •  Haryana government had made an alteration to change of land use law, such that Skylight Hospitality of Mr. Vadra could acquired an agricultural land;
  • In a public sector bank, Mr. Vadra’s company had an account balance of 1 lac rupees. Yet, it could secure an overdraft of 7 crore. This amount was issued in the form of a cheque to pay land owner;
  • Actual fund was transferred to land owner, only when land developer paid the amount to Skylight Hospitality. Money transfer was contingent upon alteration in,  change land use rule, courtesy Haryana government;
  • Skylight Hospitality sold the land to DLF for 58 crore;
  • An official of Haryana government, Mr. Ashok Khemka, had claimed illegality in the   transaction and cancelled change of land ownership in the name of Skylight Hospitality.

In the present case, till this time, there is no alleged government complicity, there is no complainant, no involvement of any public sector bank. According to information in public domain, loan was obtained from a Non Banking Financial Company. Normally,  such organisations charge high interest rate. Loan was taken by mortgaging personal property. Loan was repaid back.

From the overall reading it appears that the author has misrepresented facts, either out of ignorance (unlikely) or to create an innuendo of possible corruption. In view of impending sate assembly election and alacrity with which opposition jumped on the fray, such a possibility does not appear to be unfounded.  It is only fair that son of BJP president has taken the matter to court. Many people have argued that such an action is an attempt to muzzle free speech. The Wire.in has refused to be bowed down in front of bullying tactics by government. It must be remembered that few years earlier, Mr. M. K. Venu, one of the editors of the web portal, himself had adopted similar tactics and had sued a magazine. So what is sauce for gander, must be good for goose.

 

1. The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah – The Wire

2. After OpIndia expose, The Wire selectively alters its story, gets further …

3. All you need to know about the alleged scam behind Robert Vadra’s ..

4. Outlook apologises to MK Venu for Radia tapes cover image – The Hindu